by Michele McKay

As we think about Earth Day on April 22nd, many of us might be surprised to learn a very important fact about going veggie. What we choose to eat is one of the most significant factors in the personal impact we have on the environment and the fastest path to climate change. A recent study examining the impact of a typical week’s eating showed that plant-based diets are better for the environment than those based on meat. A vegan, organic diet had the smallest environmental impact while the single most damaging foodstuff was beef. All non-vegetarian diets require significantly greater amounts of environmental resources such as land and water. It is noteworthy that the United Nations and many leading environmental organizations—including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists—have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Whether it's unchecked air or water pollution, soil erosion, or the overuse of resources, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth.

By going vegetarian an individual can help to...

  1. Reduce global warming
  2. Avoid excessive CO2 production
  3. Reduce methane/nitrous oxide production
  4. Save large amounts of water
  5. Avoid further pollution of our streams/rivers/oceans
  6. Reduce destruction of topsoil & tropical rainforest
  7. Reduce destruction of wildlife habitats & endangered species
  8. Reduce use of antibiotics, growth hormones, and chemicals
  9. Reduce ecological footprint
  10. Help ensure environmental sustainability

For better health and the sake of the innocent animals

The environmental arguments for adopting a vegetarian diet are strong, but many vegetarians simply believe that it is wrong to kill when there is no need. Others love and respect animals and want to minimize their suffering. Some vegetarians are specifically opposed to intensive farming and choose vegetarianism because it sends a strong signal, guarantees they won’t be eating an animal reared in appalling conditions, and avoids the distress experienced by all animals slaughtered for their meat. Whatever their reasons for giving up meat, vegetarians benefit from much more than a clear conscience, as they have lower rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

Footnotes: 

“Why it’s green to go vegetarian,” The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom: https://www.vegsoc.org/document.doc?id=166